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Commemorative Issue OCT – DEC 2013 ISSUE 10


Teo Chee Hean Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs

Board of Directors

[Chairman] Lim Soon Hock Founder and Managing Director, PLAN-B ICAG Pte Ltd


[Treasurer] Bill Padfield Chief Executive Officer, Dimension Data Asia Pacific Pte Ltd Chan Heng Wing Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Non-Resident High Commissioner to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Cho Pei Lin Managing Director, Asia PR Werkz Pte Ltd   Jessie Ho  Executive Director, JHT Law Corporation   Soon Sze-Meng Director of Cross-Border Business, APCEMEA, Visa Worldwide Pte Ltd   Tam Chee Chong Regional Managing Partner, Financial Advisory Services, Southeast Asia, Deloitte & Touche LLP   Dr Ann Tan Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Women & Fetal Centre   Martin Tan Co-Founder, Executive Director Halogen Foundation Singapore

Editorial Team [Editor] Jael Chng

[Sub-Editors] Faith Jinghui Luo Daphne Lee [Designers] Peter Oh Christian Subrata

Contributors Photography: Marvin Lowe Writer: Sean Kong Halogen360 is a quarterly publication of Halogen Foundation Singapore. Halogen360 is distributed free to more than 2800 people, including cabinet ministers, partners, educators, volunteers, donors, and in the National Youth Council and *SCAPE. Copyright is held by Halogen Foundation Singapore. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


1 Forewords

6 The Antidote to a VUCA World 10 Starting Leadership from Young 13 Halogen’s Multiplier Effect 14 From Stories to Service 16 Building the Foundations of Leadership 20 Leadership-in-Action 22 Not Just Cheap Talk 24 Leading at the Forefront 26 Letting Aspirations Take Flight 29 From Our Admired Leaders 30 Volunteers that Burn Bright



32 Staff at Work, Building Lives 34 #WHATSNEXT

To provide comments or request free copies of this publication, please email singapore@ Printed by Nu-Colours Print For advertising or media enquiries, contact Jael at To find out more about Halogen and the programmes we offer, please visit our website at or scan this:




From our Patron Halogen Foundation Singapore celebrates its 10th anniversary this year

Halogen’s core belief is that every young person can make a difference.


hat started out as a simple dream by two young persons to develop young leaders and make a positive impact in Singapore has now grown to an organisation of 12 full-time staff, reaching out steadily to more youths. They include students from many of the schools in Singapore. Halogen’s core belief is that every young person can make a difference. And Halogen seeks to help young people to develop sound values and strong character, in order to succeed not just for themselves, but also when working with and leading others. The testimonies of young people who have journeyed with Halogen speak of setting goals for their lives, developing perseverance and gaining confidence to face the future. I am heartened by the work that Halogen has done, and look forward to the further work that they will do in the next 10 years. The theme for this evening #WHATSNEXT is thus very apt for Halogen, and also for the young people whom Halogen works with. I wish Halogen a happy 10th anniversary, and hope it will continue to scale new heights in the years to come. Teo Chee Hean Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs Patron, Halogen Foundation Singapore


From the Minister for Education Education is a joint labour of love. A decade is an important milestone for any organisation and Halogen’s journey from its humble beginnings and accomplishments are a testament to its goal of nurturing young leaders who want to make a difference


alogen’s work with young people complements the work of our schools. We share the same goal – that of building up our young people so that they can discover their talents and contribute to the wellbeing of the community. My colleagues and I at the Ministry of Education will continue to provide our students with a student-centric and values-driven education. To deal with the demands of a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment, good grades in school are not enough. Instead, our young leaders need to be adaptable and willing to learn. They need to have the confidence to deal with problems that have no clear-cut solutions. And they need to be able to work effectively with others, across races and nationalities, and to communicate clearly. For a strong social fabric of trust and togetherness, our young leaders must care for one another, and be committed to our collective future.

It is heartening to see Halogen Foundation Singapore work tirelessly in the past decade to raise such young leaders; leaders who are both competent, of good character, and are keen to contribute back to their families, communities and the world. Halogen is an important stakeholder in the education ecosystem. It has partnered schools to help develop youths who are confident, self-directed learners, active contributors and concerned citizens. Congratulations to Halogen on your tenth anniversary. I wish Halogen the very best as it continues to reach new milestones in the many years ahead. Heng Swee Keat Minister for Education


From the Ag Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Congratulations to Halogen Foundation Singapore on its 10th anniversary


ormed as a small start-up with only two staff, Halogen was one of the first few recipients of the National Youth Council’s Youth Organisation Capability Development Fund back in 2004. Since then, Halogen has grown into an effective youth organisation reaching over 95,000 youths and 2,700 educators. The youths of today are the leaders of our nation tomorrow. How can we better engage and empower our youths? Are we building young leaders who are not only competent but also of good character? How can we encourage our youths to make a positive difference in shaping the future of our nation? These are questions on our minds, as we go about our work in youth development. This is why the National Youth Council (NYC) is continually looking at ways to expand the opportunities for youth volunteerism in Singapore. We want to match our youths with critical community needs, and enable them to make sustained and meaningful contributions to our society. The NYC cannot do this work alone. We collaborate closely with many stakeholders and partners, and we are glad to have Halogen as one of our key partners in youth development. I thank the many volunteers who have served with Halogen over the past decade, and enabled it to grow as an organisation and reach out effectively to so many young Singaporeans. I wish Halogen a happy 10th anniversary, as it continues its important work of engaging our youths and nurturing young leaders for Singapore. Lawrence Wong Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Chairman, National Youth Council

Are we building young leaders who are not only competent but also of good character? How can we encourage our youths to make a positive difference in shaping the future of our nation?


From The Chairman I will always remember my initial encounter and experience with Halogen Foundation


was a volunteer in 2008 at the organisation’s strategic planning retreat and later in 2010, as a speaker at the Parents’ Leadership Conference. From my brief participation in those two events, I recalled being very inspired and impressed by the quality and commitment, both in substance and form, of the organisation in reaching out to and inspiring so many young leaders. Since then, I have followed the progress of the organisation and eventually agreed to be the Chairman in 2012. I subscribe to the work of Halogen – of inspiring and enabling young leaders to not only lead themselves and others as well, but also to change their world and to champion the issues they believe in.

I am happy to note that to-date, through our programmes, Halogen has effectively reached out to over 95,000 students from 60% of Singapore schools and across 24 different countries. This is an outstanding achievement. We have opened the hearts and the minds of many of these students on more than one occasion. Looking ahead, we intend to focus more on helping students from needy and poor families; so that they can integrate better into our society. While education is a great social leveller, more can also be done to enhance social mobility, which is somewhat under threat in Singapore today as a result of growing elitism. In Halogen’s next lap, we can and should leverage on our past achievements and on new initiatives to curtail and to reverse this unhealthy trend. Halogen is also planning to introduce an entrepreneurship track next year to complement the current leadership education programme. Halogen would like to open more pathways for our students from needy and poor families to be trained as leader-entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-leaders. The former is for students who are more academically inclined, while the latter is for those who are less so. Looking back at the time that I have been with the Foundation, I can say that I am very proud of the team. Though small in size, everyone has put in tremendous efforts to provide quality leadership development opportunities for all, achieving results that far outweigh their number. I also would like to thank the many volunteers who offered their gifts of time and talents to help us carry out various initiatives, as well as all the donors and supporters who believed in us and contributed generously to our funding needs. As Halogen celebrates her 10th Anniversary this year, it is my wish that the Foundation continues to remain relevant and agile as we continue to empower all students – especially those who need it most – with the best leadership and entrepreneurship development opportunities that will enable them to make a difference not only to themselves, but ultimately, to society and to Singapore. Halogen can immediately contribute to better prepare students for roles in the National Youth Corp that our government has set up to promote volunteerism and community service among our youths. Halogen is a big social game changer in her formative stage. I invite you to join us in this exciting, invigorating and fulfilling journey to build young leaders who will practically change the world through issues they believe in. Lim Soon Hock Chairman, Halogen Foundation Singapore

From The Executive Director Believe it or not, this marks my final foreword as the Executive Director of Halogen Foundation Singapore


hen you are a founder, the work you do hardly leaves your sight and mind. It permeates through every fabric of your body and life. For my two young daughters, Maegan, 7 and Meredith, 5 they don’t really know their dad without Halogen. Till today, they hold the record as the youngest volunteers we ever had. We don’t usually spend much time thinking about past accomplishments because everyday, our focus is on the next thing that is needed, or the strategies and resources needed for the next few years. In our daily conversations with friends, potential donors, educators and government leaders, our sole focus is about how to grow the organisation, develop the people under our charge and dream about a better future for the organisation and the community we can contribute towards. As I step down as Executive Director after 10 years and pen (or rather, type) this final foreword, I still find myself in my “founders mentality” – still dreaming and being excited about #WHATSNEXT. The plans the new Halogen leadership is working towards for the next 5 years are not just exciting, but much needed. The plans speak of an organisation’s willingness to go out of their comfort zone and readjust and innovate from what was successful, to position itself as a relevant and impactful part of our country. In this commemorative issue of Halogen360, you will read about those plans from our incoming Chief Executive Officer, Sean Kong. We will also take the opportunity to recap some of the key highlights over the past 10 years and the fruition of our 5-year plan launched back in 2008.

In essence, I find writing this final foreword no different from when I wrote my first for the inaugural issue of Halogen360. The passion of building young leaders remains today as much as it was yesterday. As we celebrate Halogen’s 10th birthday, may I challenge all of us to cast our eyes not just on the future, but into the eyes of our children and students. For in those eyes lie a hero waiting to be unleashed for the betterment of our country and world. Halogen will always be here to help you nurture that leader within these youths. We hope you will enjoy this issue of Halogen360. From my laptop for one last time, thank you for making our past 10 years a truly memorable success. I know Sean and his team look forward to the next 10 years with excitement and purpose, knowing they can count on your support in building young leaders, together. Thank you. Martin Tan Co-founder and Executive Director Halogen Foundation Singapore


The Antidote to a VUCA World

By Sean Kong

As we face an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, there are ways we prepare our young people to thrive in it


It is also about building capabilities in our children through education to deal with a VUCA world.

he Ministry of Education (MOE) has just completed their recent work plan seminar. In his opening speech, Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat reaffirmed the core beliefs surrounding education, talked about the future landscape, and in that context, expounded on the new initiatives and new foci that the Ministry will take in the next few years to bolster the education of our children. Highlighting the need to see the future world through a framework called VUCA, he said, “To deal with the demands of a VUCA environment, good grades in school are not enough. In fact, they might not even be relevant.” With the future world being seen as having the increased characteristics of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, individuals need to learn new skills to adapt. Mr Heng also emphasised a need for the young to keep a look out for one another, building commitment towards a collective future. Bob Johansen, in his book Leaders Make The Future, expounds heavily on the VUCA world. Originally a term coined by the US Army, the terms are defined as: 1. Volatility: The accelerating rate of change around competition, business, employment, career and job challenges. 2. Uncertainty: Our biggest challenge and inability to cope with volatility as things change so fast and in unexpected ways. It overwhelms our ability to cope and understand what is going on. 3. Complexity: All the issues and chaos that surround us, that lead to confusion in making smart decisions in what we call the “fog of reality”. 4. Ambiguity: The difficulty and inability to solve complex problems and make clear decisions because of the “fog of reality”. It is where there does not seem to

be a linear cause-and-effect relationship between problems and solutions, resulting in misreads, poor decisions, or more often, no decisions. Yet, there is a response that we can adopt to deal with the challenges that the VUCA world presents. This is commonly termed as counter-VUCA: 1. Volatility yields to Vision: Vision implies that there is a clear understanding of the desired future state. 2. Uncertainty yields to Understanding: Understanding is the critical acceptance of the short and long term factors that can affect one’s career, work and personal life. 3. Complexity yields to Clarity: Clarity is the basis for understanding how to deliver personal value through staying flexible, keeping current with technology, learning new value-adding skills, being able to innovate, and being able to deliver increasing value. 4. Ambiguity yields to Agility: Agility is the ability to be nimble by responding to new situations with new ideas, new approaches and new skills. As part of the INSPIRIT community, a National Youth Council and Singapore National Employer Federation collaboration to advocate for youth, I had the chance to visit the SMRT Depot in Bishan. One of the highlights for me was a discussion on transport issues where participants brainstormed over possible ways to solve problems of capacity and volume flow. It was facilitated by then Acting Minister of the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports, Mr Chan Chun Sing. In his sharing, he explained that we need to look at the issues in the context of the whole Singapore ecosystem, and identify the root causes versus the manifested


symptoms. The ecosystem consists of peak traffic flows, cost of land space, operating costs, population and the like. They are all intertwined; you cannot look at one issue devoid of the other. That session left me highly enlightened on two counts. Firstly, our transport issues are not as bad as people make them out to be. Second and more importantly, our government does have a detailed understanding of the issues that they are tackling. The session highlighted the uncertainty and complexity of issues that had no clear-cut solutions (ambiguity), all these seemingly having stemmed from our population growth (volatility). It also greatly highlighted the need for us to have the capacity to deal with these VUCA issues through a counter-VUCA framework. Having a better understanding of the VUCA world and how to deal with it also helps us frame our understanding of MOE’s new initiatives. Besides just being equipped as an education ministry to deal with a VUCA world, it is also about building capabilities in our children through education to deal with a VUCA world. How can we do that? Help our young have a personal vision When we think vision, we often think of organisational or corporate visions. Leadership research has shown that people subscribe and commit to organisational and corporate visions only if there is a sense of alignment with personal values and vision. As we develop our young people for the future, we ought to also help them discover and arrive at a personal


vision for their own life. How can personal vision be discovered? Beyond values and passion, a strong sense of vision and destiny can only come when one is assured of his personal identity. When you do not know who you are, it is difficult to imagine who you can become. Drawing from studies of developmental psychology, we know that a child’s identity comes largely from his interactions with his parents. Without the cornerstone of personal identity, exposure to different opportunities and platforms would do little to help a young person develop a strong personal vision. In that light, we see, together with MOE a greater need to engage parents to be supportive partners. Help our young develop understanding When we think about transport issues, many youths see it from a narrow point of overcrowding and capacity without understanding the other issues at large. One of the recurring thoughts I had after that enlightening INSPIRIT session was, “If every young person learnt how to see and understand our national issues through this lens, they would be a lot less critical about efforts to improve and more constructive in helping to resolve some of these issues.” Understanding comes through taking an in-depth look at issues. It often begins with taking the humble and courageous position of acknowledging the problems at hand, and then delving deeper to identify the root issues rather than circling around the symptoms. Help our young develop clarity As noise increases in the world of digital media, discernment becomes increasingly difficult. Mr Heng talked about enduring values, timeless wisdom and immutable insights that educators need to impart. Some of these foundational values go against the grain of popular culture. Helping young people navigate such a climate as they grow up requires them to be deeply rooted and crystal clear about the values that they embrace – an objective that can be bolstered by the Learning for Life Programme. Yet, the clarity can only come about when there is sufficient understanding of these values vis-à-vis the values (or lack thereof) and consequences of popular culture.

However, Johansen also cautions: “Clarity gets rewarded, even if it’s wrong, because people are so confused”. There is a real potential to complicate matters when one is clear and wrong. And while youths yet have the experience and hindsight to make the right decisions, they will have to rely on teachers to guide their discernment as they navigate grey areas. Help our young develop agility With increasing complexities, solutions will no longer be straightforward. It is going to be a zigzag path. Failure is almost inevitable along the way, and it is important to learn how to fail early, and fail often and cheaply, as a way of developing a strategy as you go. That is the core of rapid prototyping. Agility compliments clarity in that you need to be very clear about where you are going, but being flexible in how you are going to get there. So is MOE headed in the right direction in preparing our youths and

building in them counter-VUCA capabilities? We certainly think so. The new initiatives like the Applied Learning Programme seeks to help students gain a deeper understanding of the real world by drawing relevance to lessons. The Learning for Life Programme seeks to help a young person discover and clarify his values, identity, empathy, care, passions and interests that will help shape his personal vision. Providing multiple pathways of success also helps them adopt flexibility in how they can achieve their dreams (agility). While cynics and doomsayers will always paint a bleak picture of what the future might look like, we are positive about the direction that we are heading towards. In the past two years, Halogen has been sharing with educators and youths about VUCA and what they can do to counter it. It is our hope to continue to prepare our youths for what is to come. If all the stakeholders in youth education press on together, we will definitely prepare and position our children well to take on a VUCA world.

Sean Kong is the Deputy CEO of Halogen Foundation Singapore. Apart from loving youths, he loves the outdoors and adventure. His dream is to sail across the Indian Ocean.

Available for purchase at:




fROM young

As Halogen celebrates its 10th year of building young leaders, we find out how two individuals took the opportunity to turn their passion for youth into an action that has reaped a mindset of influencing young people towards positive action and influence By Daphne Lee

Photo courtesy of Marvin Lowe



eeting Halogen’s co-founders Martin Tan, 36 and Jeffrey Yip, 37 for the first time gives you the impression that the two men are

constantly chatting. Ten years ago in 2003, they met through a mutual friend and have sat down for countless conversations since. The first conversation between them revolved around an event called National Young Leaders’ Day (NYLD) that Jeffrey had attended in Auckland that was

#WHATSNEXT for Halogen in the next 10 years?

organised by the Young Leaders Foundation in Australia. Jeffrey, who was a research scholar at the National Youth Council working on the pioneer book, witnessed the NYLD event where 3,000 to 4,000 students filled a stadium to learn about leadership from different speakers in the community, business, and sports arenas. “The speakers spoke about their passion, taking action and having influence in their sphere of work. I thought it was cool and inspiring and was moved to tears at some of the speeches,” he said. The idea stuck in his head when he returned to Singapore. “It hit me on the value of pursuing our passions and our dreams and I thought that this would be something that would work out well in Singapore,” he added. Jeffrey was later introduced to Martin who was then the executive director of RiverLife Community Services at RiverLife Church and the two struck a chord when they realised that they had a common interest and passion for youth work. As Boys Brigade boys, both individuals had benefitted from having people invest in their lives throughout their youth and were keen to pay it forward. In May 2003, Martin, along with two other student volunteers from the National University of Singapore, travelled up to Sydney to witness the NYLD event. By October 2003, the first NYLD took place in Singapore at the Singapore Expo for 1,000 students. The event was funded by the North East Community Development Council and the entire programme was run by volunteers including Martin and Jeffrey who were still employed in their respective organisations. The first Guest-of-Honour was Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was then the Minister of Defence. From the first event, Halogen built its philosophy of “passing the baton on”. This is where influential leaders from different fields share their stories to pass the baton on to young people, so that he or she may be inspired to do something similar with their lives. Through feedback from the event, it became evident that NYLD served a need in Singapore. “People were asking us why we were just doing events when leadership programmes were needed in school and teachers also needed to know how to develop young people as leaders,” said Martin. Based on the feedback and planning, the organisation Young Leaders’ Foundation Singapore was formed in August 2003. Martin took on the full-time role of executive

“My hope for Halogen is that it will be better than the last 10. I look at technology and the world and the only thing we must ensure is the agility to respond to change. As long as we have an organisation that is agile to respond to the change, sincere to meet the needs of young people, continues to inspire them and believe that they are the generation that can change the world, and gives them all the competencies and resources to achieve it – I am confident of that organisation that responds to that change because it is needs-based. The point is not about how good we are but what the need of the world is. The solution to it all is leadership and as long as we invest in leadership in whatever ways that we can, I am confident of our future.” - Martin Tan, Executive Director and Co-Founder


director and co-founder while Jeffrey continued lending

Today, Halogen Foundation Singapore (previously

his expertise as a co-founder, and also as a board member

known as Young Leaders’ Foundation) has organised 18

for a period of time. Martin said, “We decided that we

NYLD events in 10 years, grown to include five different

had to grow this beyond what volunteers can do. Our

arms of Academy, Events, Projects, Social and Lab, and

next biggest challenge then was to raise funds as sustain-

has launched the National Young Leader Award. All this

ability was important”.

is our response to cater to the different needs of schools,

The idea that no one thought about combining

students, educators and parents when it comes to leadership.

youth and leadership together in the early years spurred

While the journey to growth may seen remarkable,

Martin and Jeffrey further. “It’s really debunking the myth

Martin and Jeffrey’s core question to themselves remain

of leadership – that it is not about position, seniority or

the same: “What will benefit young people and what do

experience, but a daily act. Young people can be more

schools need today?”

effective in doing leadership in different fields,” explains

“What Halogen emphasises about leadership, helps.

Jeffrey, who is presently pursuing his PhD in Organisa-

It is about serving a felt need. Halogen opens up the win-

tional Behaviour at Boston University.

dow for young people to understand this and to make

“Once that idea took hold and we learnt to communi-

their choices and know what they want to do. Leadership

cate the idea more effectively, it helped to overcome the

is not about themselves but it is about serving others,”

barrier of the perception that young people and leaders

says Martin.

are not to be combined together.”

Both feel that acknowledging the independent-minded youth of today is also important as Halogen is not about prescribing a set pathway but opening a window to

#WHATSNEXT for Halogen in the next 10 years?

different life stories and giving youths an insight into the many paths they may be curious about. “I look at education in the last few years where the focus is on different pathways to success. The idea of bringing in different types

“My hope is that Halogen will continue to serve a need. This is about the journey that is driven by the mission that regardless of who is in the fellowship, the fellowship will still continue on and it will look after each other. It depends on people but is driven by the mission. I think Halogen started that way – it is primarily driven by mission and what needs to be done.” - Jeffrey Yip, Co-Founder, former board member, and PhD candidate in Organisational Behaviour, Boston University

of speakers on the same platform is still part and parcel of our DNA which has not changed in the last 10 years,” adds Martin. What lies ahead for the organisation in the next 10 years? He says, “Perhaps because of our last 10 years, we can have a glimpse into the future needs of the country or the type of young people and education that we can potentially build”.

Daphne Lee is a Halogen volunteer, freelance writer and a full-time mum. The power of the written word is something she enjoys, and she aims to, one day, catch up with reading on the Kindle. Meanwhile, pen, paper, and books are her comfort tools.



FROM STORIES TO SERVICE In the past 10 years, Halogen’s National Young Leaders’ Days, a flagship event of the organisation, has continually inspired young people through leaders who share their stories on this platform By Daphne Lee



013 is the year which 22-year-old

reached out to over 18,000 students from

Shermaine is one of five finalists of the

Nicholas Ow celebrates a ten-year

226 schools from the ages of 9 to 19.

inaugural National Young Leader Award

milestone with Halogen. Nicholas

Each student, regardless of their positions

launched by Halogen this year that seeks

attended the inaugural National Young

in school, come and hear from inspiring

out young individuals aged 15 to 19 who

Leaders’ Day (NYLD) held at the Singapore

speakers who are leaders of their fields.

are making a difference in their communities.

Expo as a participant in October 2003. This

They include, among many other speakers,

Halogen’s Manager of Events, Ivy Tse

year, Nicholas, who is pursuing his master’s

Mr Nick Vujicic, international motivational

shares: “The truth is I can’t engineer batch-

degree in Chemistry at University College,

speaker, Mr Budi Soehardi, CNN Hero of

es of inspired youth just by putting them

London, returned to volunteer with Halogen,

2009 and Founder of Roslin Orphanage

through rounds of NYLDs. For all the hard

helping out in the same event he once at-

in West Timor and Miss Yip Pin Xiu, Singa-

and heart work that goes into running the

tended when he was a Primary 6 student in

pore’s first-ever Paralympic gold medallist.

NYLDs, it is sometimes easy to forget that.

Gongshang Primary School.

Another participant of NYLD last year,

But every now and then, good stories will

“I was really inspired and encour-

Miss Shermaine Ng, 16, from Raffles Girls’

surface and they remind me that Halogen’s

aged by the sharing from the speakers. I

School shared that she was inspired by one

commitment to NYLDs is our way of pro-

remembered Singapore adventurer David

of the speakers, National Co-Director of

tecting the youth’s propensity to dream.”

Lim and Founder and CEO of 77th Street,

World Vision’s Youth Movement, Chris Var-

It is this commitment that Halogen

Elim Chew, and it was a great privilege to

ney. “He shared his experience about how

aims to preserve for young people as it

be part of such a large gathering of young

he saw the third world countries in poverty

grows through the years. Nicholas, who

leaders,” says Nicholas.

while we were very much living privileged

returned to help at this year’s NYLD, puts

lives,” says Shermaine.

it aptly “Through the sharing of life’s ex-

“I gleaned plenty of lessons in life and leadership. Though it was only later that

His words got her to think about the

periences and being part of projects that

I actually had a chance to apply what I

inequality in the world in terms of devel-

are helping to make society a better place,

learnt, they were valuable bits of wisdom

opment and the opportunities that were

as cliché as it might sound, it really does

and advice from those who had gone be-

provided for all and she decided to make

open up our eyes to something that we of-

fore me. I left the event with a sense of an-

a difference in her school community by

ten take for granted, be it the roof over our

ticipation as to what could actually happen

initiating a Sponsor-a-Child project with

heads or the bowl of food we have each

if each of us contributed and played our

Watoto Organisation where the class is now

day in front of us.

part in the larger issues that we face on a

sponsoring a 14-year-old child in Uganda.

By seeing the need in the community

daily basis.”

“I guess speaker Chris Varney showed me

that we live in, we can begin to position

Over the years, Halogen has shared its

that age is not a boundary to making a dif-

ourselves in that need and really be an

message of how young people can have a

ference so at the start of 2013, I brought

answer in someone’s situation.”

ripple effect on the things they are inspired

the idea up to my form teacher and my

to do and how they can practically change

class.” She adds, “That is really the first

the world in issues they believe in.

step to think of someone across the world

“We saw National Young Leaders’ Day as an opportunity where we could impact

who is being left behind while we are progressing everyday.”

young people and young leaders. If we can invest in youth leadership, we felt that there was a whole lot more that could be done by them as a generation,” says Halogen’s cofounder and executive director Martin Tan. “We did not want our efforts to be focused on just one thing such as working only with one school or starting a single children’s home. Instead we wanted to focus our energy on young people and invest in their development, their DNA and their vision. We want to open their horizons and minds, and develop their character so that they can multiply the effect of the good work they do.” Today, NYLD events, comprising the Primary





“I was really inspired and encouraged by the sharing from the speakers. I gleaned plenty of lessons in life and leadership.” - Nicholas Ow, Halogen volunteer

16 Building the Foundations of Leadership

Building the Found

Leadershi As Halogen ventured into building their Academy eight years ago, we find out how the foundations were laid and what it hopes to achieve for youths and educators By Jael Chng


fter taking the plunge to kick-start Events, another opportunity awaited Halogen. As teachers attended the NYLDs, they saw how their

students were inspired. The question they had after the events was, “How can the inspiration be sustained?” They suggested to Halogen to conduct leadership workshops. That request led to the birth of Halogen’s first leadership workshop at Temasek Secondary School and the Young Leaders Academy. Stepping out to start the Academy was no easy feat. It was a whole new ball game. It required different skill sets, capabilities and structures. While starting it up, what came next leapfrogged Halogen’s capabilities. At that time, Halogen’s co-founder Jeffrey Yip was working as a researcher in the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL©), a topranked global provider of executive education focused on leadership development. One day, he had an opportunity to meet the then Managing Director of CCL© Asia-Pacific, Mr Michael Jenkins, where he shared passionately about Halogen. As a result of this vision and passion alignment, CCL© agreed

to donate their leadership guidebooks. This was a huge win. This meant that Halogen was able to use leadership materials produced by CCL© for schools in their Everyday Leadership™ modules. The materials included the latest in pedagogy and leadership content. “It was this generous support from CCL© that made a huge impact on the students we teach,” said Martin Tan, Halogen’s co-founder and executive director. To add to that, in 2005, Martin attended The Leadership Challenge® Workshop when Jim Kouzes, co-author of the award-winning and best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge® first came to Singapore. Martin then advanced to the facilitator training and became one of the pioneer facilitators to train students with the same material, way before The Student Leadership Challenge® came about. Photo courtesy of Marvin Lowe

Building the Foundations of Leadership 17

dations oF


18 Building the Foundations of Leadership Over the years, Halogen continued to deliver this programme,

session and shared about my personal experiences of low self-es-

aligning with the core belief of The Leadership Challenge that

teem. Then I asked them what was the one thing they would like

leadership is everyone’s business. Today, there are seven certi-

to be remembered for. A Secondary Two boy stood up, looked

fied facilitators in the Halogen Team. Together, they have trained

at me in the eye and said, “I want people to know that I have

5,400 students for The Student Leadership Challenge® and 580

integrity.” Shortly, another followed and said, “I am smart”. An-


educators for The Leadership Challenge . As the exclusive certi-

other said “I have pride in my work” and this just went on. In that

fication partner for The Student Leadership Challenge® for Asia-

experience, I discovered that each student has a great propensity

Pacific since 2012, Halogen has also certified 39 other facilitators.

to shine.”


As Halogen reaches out to youths, we discovered the impor-

Another encouraging story is that of Timothy James Adman

tance of other stakeholders in youth leadership development,

Conde, a Secondary Three East View Secondary School student

especially the educator. “The reality is that teachers spend way

who attended The Student Leadership Challenge® workshop. He

more time with the students than we ever will. While the inspiring

shared, “After the workshop I am much more open-minded, look-

leadership lessons we teach last a short time for most students, a

ing for every opportunity to improve on what we can. With the

teacher can keep this inspiration going on for days, weeks, months

practices taught to us by the Halogen team especially ‘inspire a

and even years. With the relationship they have with the students,

shared vision’ and ‘enable others to act’, I am now able to effec-

they can bring them on a journey from learning to application to

tively share my vision to my peers and let them see what we can

life change,” says Sean Kong, Halogen’s Deputy CEO.

achieve from my view and allow them to act accordingly.”

Another key stakeholder is the volunteer. Together with the

In the next decade, the Academy aims to further impact edu-

staff, volunteers play an active role. Halogen’s Chief of Staff Pearl

cators and students. “Over the last ten years, we have gleaned

Pang says, “In Halogen, we want to build young leaders, and that

many valuable global and local insights. With the insights and ex-

includes our volunteers. We want to provide a platform for them

perience, we want to equip educators with the latest knowledge,

to live out their passion – impacting other youths. As they train,

skills and tools, so that together, we can fully develop the leader-

our hope is that they will internalise the values we hold close – that

ship potential of our youths. Each school will be able to increase

leadership is indeed influence. Through our training for them and

their internal capacity of building young leaders,” says Sean.

the public speaking opportunities, they can hone their communication skills that adds value to their varsity and professional life”.

Keeping in step with how youths are engaged, the Academy is deliberately moving into the digital space and employing experiential learning methods such as applied drama. A complementary leadership entre-

“We want to equip educators with the latest knowledge, skills and tools, so that together, we can fully develop the leadership potential of our youths. Each school will be able to increase their internal capacity of building young leaders.”

preneurship track will also be introduced. In October 2013, Halogen inked a partnership with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to certify trainers and teachers for entrepreneurship training. The Academy is never stagnant but always innovating. As Vanessa puts it aptly, “Staying in this line of work keeps me on my toes and open to learning new things.” While it keeps moving, the Academy is grounded in strong foundations to build deep foundations in young leaders.

- Sean Kong, Deputy CEO, Halogen Foundation Singapore

More often than not, the staff and volunteers have to dart from one end of Singapore to another, sometimes in the early hours of the morning. What keeps them going? “There were times I wanted to throw in the towel. However, seeing the look of understanding on the faces of the students, the growing belief in themselves that they can influence and make a difference, fuels me every time,” says Vanessa Yap, Academy executive at Halogen. Kenneth Heng, also an Academy executive at Halogen, recounted a recent training, “I walked into a normal technical class and every single student showed complete disinterest. I paused the planned

Jael Chng is the head of Social at Halogen, championing relevant ways of communicating with youths. She likes jazz music, enjoys creating and hopes to open a retail store one day.



There is a saying that goes, “learning by doing”. Educators are talking about creating “leadership moments”. What does that look like in Halogen? By Jael Chng


estlessness. That was what fuelled

dirty and really experience first-hand what

not only opened new doors for Halogen,

the start of the Projects unit in Halogen.

it’s like to accomplish something good for

they also exposed youths to new ideas and

others,” says Darlene.

broader horizons,” says Darlene.

After running many inspirational

events and educational trainings, running

Being a small and lean organisation,

Collaborating with different partners

Projects came as a natural progression for

and especially one that focuses on playing

such as teachers, corporate volunteers and

Halogen. “While we were proud of what

a non-prescriptive catalytic role, Halogen

staff from other non-profits has been a re-

we had already accomplished, there was a

could fulfill this dream only with the part-

warding experience for Halogen. “It was

restless feeling of wanting to do more, to

nerships that came along.

heartwarming to see the people involved

go beyond the four walls of the classroom

In 2009, the Cambridge Society in Sin-

have the same passion to see youths suc-

and really see youths in action,” says Dar-

gapore approached Halogen to partner for

ceed. What touched me most was the ded-

lene Joy Uy, Halogen’s first head of Projects.

a mentoring programme. A result of that

ication of the teachers and volunteers that

“Inspiration, Education and Action”,

was the Cambridge-Halogen Youth Leader-

we worked with – those who didn’t have to

are the three domains of leadership that

ship Programme. In 2011, Temasek Junior

do the projects but were doing it because

Halogen often talks about. Halogen’s Proj-

College and Temasek Secondary School,

they wanted to, and those who really went

ects unit is envisioned as the manifestation

close partners of Halogen, wanted to kick

out of their way to make the projects awe-

of leadership-in-action, providing guidance

off a national youth leadership competi-

some. It was a lot of work and could be

to youths who want to contribute positively

tion. From that, The Leadership Face-Off

stressful at times, but it was touching and

to their communities.

was started. In the same year, Halogen

energising to feel their passion and excitement,” says Darlene.

Part of the driving force were events in

met the Asia Pacific head of

Singapore such as Our SG Conversations,

Foundation while they were looking for a

where Halogen was moved by young peo-

Singapore partner to run their global lead-

ple’s desires to be involved. “Personally,

ership apprenticeship programme, Sales-

I really wanted youths to get their hands

force BizAcademy. “Our partnerships have


What was it like being involved in these leadership projects?

Rob Smith Senior Technical Architect, Mentor at the Salesforce BizAcademy

The experience was fun, exciting and engaging – never a dull moment. It was inspiring to see young people come up with really great ideas and work together to see them through. I got to watch how some of the students grew over the week - from where they started at the beginning to how they articulated their ideas with confidence at the end. I saw how quickly they learned from their mistakes, put aside their nervousness and came together as a team to leverage one another’s strengths to put together a solid presentation at the end.

Andy Lim Educator, Temasek Junior College The Leadership Face-Off Primary Coordinator

My experience in planning and running this project has been rewarding to say the least. I’ve seen firsthand how students from all walks of life tackle the same task and come up with a multitude of solutions. I’ve seen the creativity displayed by participants in their presentations, their interpretation of tasks and their conceptualisation of ideas. I’ve seen how they are willing to step out of their comfort zone and to approach members of the public to obtain pledges on a theme which the organisers and participants both believe in: Sports in 2012 and Family in 2013.

Barry Clarke Managing Director, Taylor & Francis Asia Pacific Mentor at the Cambridge-Halogen Youth Leadership Programme

How has participating in these projects shaped you as a leader?

The experience has been enriching and enjoyable. In my group, one boy had been relatively quiet and sometimes detached during the planning phase of the project. But as his confidence in his team members grew, he came forward to take the project to new levels. And on the day of delivering the project itself, he engaged with elderly folks in ways that touched the hearts of all involved.

Serena Huang Student, CHIJ St. Theresa’s Convent The Leadership Face-Off Participant

One key thing that I have learnt and grown in is respect. My members and I weren’t close initially and we were given challenges that really required us to work as a team. Whenever there were times of disagreements or conflicts, it gave us the chance to respect one another’s differences and learn how to compromise or accept the flaws of one another. Those steps helped us along the way as we were able to settle things amicably.


y acco m plish m ent @h alog en sg - Evercis to try. Ta ke sta rts with th e de y :)ion#yo lo th e first ste p toda

@ h a log e n sg - N e ve te ll y ou th at y ou a r let a n y o n e to create ch a n g e. Wre too y ou n g ch a n g e st a rt s wit h o rl d y ou!

t x e n s t a h #w #i a m ga


@ sa ra h

@pea rly n

Not just

cheap talk

Building leadership communities and conversations is the driving force behind Social, an arm of Halogen that aims to spark discussions about leadership By Daphne Lee

Photo courtesy of Marvin Lowe



alogen intern Sarah Png is a

zydays on Facebook to spread the message

who feel that leadership skills can be learnt

20-year-old graduate of Ngee Ann

to young people that they can choose to

and everyone has the ability to lead in

Polytechnic. She was on the way

put on a smile and give away masks, in-

their own ways. The Halogen Think Tank

to university when she took a three-month

stead of just complaining about the weath-

not only allows us to share our experiences

internship with the Social arm of Halogen.

er. At every NYLD, themes are further rein-

and challenges within our schools, it also

Her primary role is to handle social media.

forced through social media hashtags like

updates us on the latest leadership devel-

“My internship was supposed to last

#iamgame and #whatsnext, to challenge

opment and trends. I am always encour-

three months before I was scheduled to

young people to share online about how

aged after each Think Tank as we progress

start school in September. However, after

they hope to give back to the community.

together on the journey to develop our

just a month and a half into the internship,

“Social media is current and for young

future generations.” Also adding value to

I found what I was doing to be really fulfill-

people, it is akin to the concept of hav-

educators is Halogen360, of which Vivien

ing,” says Sarah who made the decision to

ing conversations in an online kampong

Lee, from the National Institute of Educa-

extend her internship period to six months

(village in Malay). A lot of educators and

tion shares, “Halogen360 provides varied

before she commences on her university

adults think it is frivolous and takes up too

and thought-provoking articles that leads

studies in communication, media studies

much of the young person’s time. What

me to reflect on the topic of leadership and

and marketing in January next year.

we at Halogen want to do is to make it

what it means to be a good leader.”

Being immersed in a work culture

more meaningful. It’s important for young

Leadership indeed does not happen in

where everyone believed in strong causes

people to know that they don’t have to

a vacuum, but one that thrives in commu-

also made her think about how she would

use digital tools defensively,” says Jael, in

nities through conversations.

like to give back to society in the future. “I

response to current digital education that

wanted for other youths to be impacted in

mainly revolves around cyber-wellness.

the same way through a very current plat-

For a Gen-Y like Sarah, her interaction

form in which we engage in daily – social

with social media has given her hope for

media,” she adds.

her generation. “It brings me great joy each

Facilitating conversations about leader-

time youths share their dreams and inspira-

ship is the premise of Social, an arm cre-

tions with us online, either through a mes-

ated in Halogen in 2011. It is done through

sage, hashtag or mention. It always serves

platforms such as Halogen online commu-

as a reminder to keep doing what we do

nities of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,

because lives are being impacted and we

Halogen Think Tank, a community of lead-

are sowing into the leaders of tomorrow.”

ership development educators to support

Besides the students, educators are

each other through the sharing of chal-

also engaged through the Halogen Think

lenges, opportunities and best practices,

Tank sessions and quarterly publication,

Halogen360, an in-house magazine that

Halogen360. Mr Edwin Cheong, Head of De-

reaches more than 2,000 educators in 443

partment of Student Leadership at Hougang

schools, and the Halogen Huddle, a quar-

Secondary School says: “Leadership is ev-

terly gathering for Halogen volunteers to

eryone’s business. I am privileged to be in

exchange views in a casual environment.

the company of like-minded practitioners

Each is crucial in the support of leadership development and education. Halogen’s head of Social, Jael Chng says, “We hope to shift mindsets and paradigms, and convince and reinforce the idea that leadership is about influence and everyone can be a leader. We also want to encourage educators and young people to step up and continue to be inspired to lead. Engaging young people digitally is also important so that they are aware that they can lead well through their digital influence.” For example, when Singapore was experiencing hazy days this year, Halogen created a social media initiative #happyha-

“I wanted for other youths to be impacted in the same way through a very current platform in which we engage in daily – social media.” - Sarah Png, Halogen intern


Leading at th Forefront The Lab keeps Halogen up-to-date with youth trends and educator’s needs By Jael Chng


ne day you’re in and the next you’re out!” This saying, popularised by Heidi Klum of the fashion reality show Project Runway, is characteristic of today’s world. It is not only characteristic in product-life and economy cycles; it is also prevalent in the educational world. “We need to keep up to date with fast changing trends and be in the know of what youths are being exposed to in this digital age. In my previous role as a full -time trainer, I was taught that learning only happens in the realm of a person’s reality. Good as your content may be, as long as you cannot make it real to them in their context, the lesson becomes irrelevant and hence inapplicable. It is important to us that we have an in-depth understanding of the ever-changing landscape of youth culture and issues,” says Sean Kong, Halogen’s Deputy CEO.

The value of relevance is one of the reasons that led Halogen to carve out the Lab unit. The Lab aims to create that space where Halogen keeps up with the latest youth leadership educational trends and also help educators stay in touch. Internally, Halogen channels these insights into their curriculum development. “Every year, we do a major updating exercise for our modules. The lesson objectives remain largely the same, but we are always in search of the latest stories and new media channels that we can use to engage students with. We even experiment with new pedagogies like applied drama to make lessons come alive for our students so as to enhance their social emotional learning by helping them understand different scenarios,” say Sean. In the last year, through their observations and research, Halogen has identified


the new learning needs and a gap in the educational world. “Digital media literacy education has been mainly defensive. You’re told that as a youth, this is what you can’t do, shouldn’t do and that’s it. Why can’t we do something positive with so much technological prowess?” asked Jael Chng, Halogen’s head of Social. This gap sparked off an entire conversation, with Halogen dreaming about youths being the ones to drive social change through powerful technological platforms. “How does one become a responsible online citizen? Can we build a digital community that generates meaningful conversations with one another?” were some of the questions that Halogen asked. From that idea, Halogen created a digital leadership suite to educate students on how to capitalise on digital platforms to extend their influence, but at the same time,

use these powerful tools with care and responsibility. The suite includes modules on how a youth can lead in a digital age, namely “Power up! in a Digital Age”, “The Online Citizen”, and “Innovation”. “These modules seek to equip students with the right knowledge and perspective of the complexities of today’s world. From understanding the power of our “clicks”, to the power of creating and building digital communities, youths can create and generate meaningful conversations to build trust within their own communities,” says Halogen’s Academy Executive, Kenneth Heng who created these modules. After attending the workshop “Power up! in a Digital Age,”, Su Thida Htun from Cresent Girls’ School shares what she has learnt,”Leadership has much more influence with the technology in the digital age and if it is channeled into good causes, it will bring about a positive change for many people.” With research and knowledge of what is happening in the world of education and youth development, Halogen hopes to go beyond impacting students directly, to putting a consolidated resource into educators’ hands. “We want to help teachers be at the forefront of youth leadership development. We know that it is never easy juggling the demands of teaching, therefore we want to make it easy for teachers to keep up. We do this hard work so teachers can reap the benefits,” says Sean.

better leaders after the programmes we organised for them?” This was another reason why the Lab was birthed. “We see this as an important question to answer, and we hope the research tells us where we are excelling in, and what we need to work on to provide better leadership development for our young people,” says Sean. In 2011, together with Center for Creative Leadership (CCL©) and National Youth Council, Halogen conducted a pilot study called the Youth Leadership Indicator Survey. Several focus group discussions were held with employers who were asked what crucial characteristics a young person would need to thrive in the future world. Through these discussions, 35 competencies were identified. In consultation with CCL©, a set of questions were derived to measure these 35 competencies. The initial survey was then rolled out to about 600 students from different demographics. This is the beginning of a long research project we hope to be able to put into the hands of educators – an affordable impact assessment tool to measure the effectiveness of the schools’ leadership development strategies and programmes. Development indeed is an ongoing process and it looks like Halogen is not going to stop, but will continue to keep at the forefront, incubating new ideas and looking for ways to meet needs.

“We want to help teachers be at the forefront of youth leadership development.” - Sean Kong, Deputy CEO of Halogen Foundation Singapore

Another gap that Halogen has identified is the need for youth leadership impact assessment. Having been in the space of youth leadership development for ten years, Halogen often gets asked this question: “How do I know if my students are


LEtting aspirations take flight Halogen’s dream becomes a reality with the launch of the National Young Leaders Award as a platform to recognise young leaders. By Jael Chng



s Halogen encourages young leaders to dream and turn them into reality, we walk the talk. As Martin

Tan, co-founder and executive director of Halogen recounts, “The National Young Leader Award is a dream that we had for some time. When we were planning our five-year strategic plan back in 2008, one of the things we identified was a need for an award that targets specifically a younger age group that we were impacting. We wanted an award youths can aspire towards that does not put a focus on academics or age. We wanted an award specifically designed to inspire youth at a

“This recognition has given these fine young men further conviction and drive to continue to make a difference in the communities and the lives of those around them.” - Ang Kiam Wee, Principal, ITE College Central

young age to do so much more.” This year, the Award became a reality as Halogen launched it on a national level. On

puts it “I see something in common across

circumstance or challenge is, they have the

29 August 2013 at National Young Lead-

all five of them. They show a strong pas-

capacity for good, and they can work to-

ers’ Day (NYLD), guest-of-honour Minister

sion in their belief or a cause, one that is

wards it,” says Sean.

for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat said in

rooted in a genuine love and appreciation

his speech: “I am pleased that Halogen

for people. Through their own means, they

will be launching the inaugural National

choose to take action and devote time and

Young Leader Award today to recognise

energy to achieve their goals.”

young leaders who exemplify character,

Winners from other national youth

resilience, drive and leadership. This award

awards in Singapore generally are from an

aims to affirm young leaders who are in-

older age group. By creating this award for

volved, engaged and have conviction and

younger people, Halogen seeks to share the

courage in the things that they do.”

message that youths do not have to wait

With so many good responses, sifting

until they enter the workforce before they

through the 49 application forms to select

are able to contribute. By starting young,

the five finalists was no easy task. Sean,

Halogen hopes this perpetuates a culture

Deputy CEO of Halogen’s sentiments were

of giving back as they grow up. Mr Ang

as such, “This shows that Singapore is not

Kiam Wee, Principal, ITE College Central,

short of promising young people. Each of

was very encouraged. He shares, “This rec-

the applicants has very good stories of their

ognition has given these fine young men

own contributions in their community. It

further conviction and drive to continue to

is heart-warming to hear that there is so

make a difference in the communities and

much good being done out there by differ-

the lives of those around them.”

ent young leaders”.

As Halogen lives out this dream, their

It is also with this same dilemma that

aim is to bring greater attention and

the second panel of judges, including Mr

awareness to the good work these excep-

Baey Yam Keng (GPC Chairman for Minis-

tional young leaders are aspiring towards

try of Culture, Community & Youth, Mem-

and are capable of. “By showcasing stories

ber of Parliament Tampines GRC) and Miss

of young people, we hope that others will

Sandra Davie (The Straits Times Senior

be inspired by their stories. Some of the

Education Correspondent) had to face as

finalists come from humble backgrounds.

they selected the final award winner from

When others from similar backgrounds see

the five finalists.

and hear that their peers can make a differ-

These five finalists, aged between 15-

ence despite their circumstances, it gives

19 years old, are actively giving generously

little or no excuse for them not to do the

of their time and energy for social good.

same. We want every young person out

As Halogen’s award coordinator Ivy, aptly

there to know that no matter what their

This is testament that dreams can, indeed, become a reality.

If you know of any outstanding young leader, get them to nominate themselves for 2014’s National Young Leader Award. Nominees need to be 15–19 years old in the year of 2014. The closing date for applications are on 10th May 2014. For more details and application form, visit

Watch the video stories of this year’s five finalists here or go to


“I’ve always wanted to help developing countries, but didn’t know how to. When I heard of the Sichuan earthquake happening again, I was shocked! It was unsettling and extremely heart-breaking.” - Chia Yee Shin, 18, Hwa Chong Institution College, actively led her school in collecting funds for the Sichuan Earthquake earlier this year.

“I believe that starting a culture that promotes collective social responsibility is imperative for Singaporeans especially during this age of individualism. I want to act now, and leave a better Singapore for my future generation.” - Nathaniel Loh, 18, Saint Andrew’s Junior College, started a project to transform void decks into study places.

“When I entered ITE, I wanted to pay forward the good deeds I received from people I met in secondary school. Thus, I started by grabbing whatever opportunities I could get to do this.” - Lye Zheng Bin, 18, ITE College Central, actively shares his knowledge on aviation with fellow youths at workshops and conferences.

“I feel strongly about inequality. I know we live in a meritocratic society. What about those who are late bloomers? Or those who have financial difficulties to afford tuition? Do we give a chance to those who can’t reach the mark no matter how hard they try?” - Shermaine Ng, 16, Raffles Girls’ School, has rallied her classmates to support the Watoto Sponsor-a-Child Programme.

“Many people want to help others but are afraid of all the challenges. For me, I like to challenge myself to the maximum. If I succeed, that’s good. If I don’t, I gain experience. I will keep pushing myself until I achieve my goal.” - Audric Ping, 18, ITE College Central, looks out for others by helping his peers through group studies.


FRom our admired


When you are successful, when you have “made it”, what’s next? Each year at National Young Leaders’ Days (NYLD), influencers from various fields do good by giving back. These change-makers share their stories with young people, and at the same time never fail to inspire the adults in the audience as well By Jael Chng

I was very honoured to be part of the highly energetic and inspiring National Young Leaders’ Day (Women’s Edition) 2013. The whole event was beautifully put together, with a focus on matters relevant to young women leaders of the future. The fun format combined with touching tributes and candid depictions of real world issues clearly made an impact on our young women attendees, giving them both a global and national outlook. Happy 10th birthday Halogen keep championing our young leaders for a brighter future!

- Gina Romero Founder & Managing Director, The Athena Network Speaker at NYLD Women’s Edition, 2013

I recall at one of the pioneer editions of National Young Leaders’ Day, I felt from the young people that they were all hungry and eager to embrace the role of leadership. My hope for them is that they will take up leadership roles as young as possible because that will help them learn and experience what leadership is all about. Through those experiences, it will help them mature and grow even more.

- Elim Chew Owner, 77th Street Speaker at NYLD, 2003

Halogen has done a wonderful job in impacting the youth in Singapore and I hope to see Halogen grow even more and impact all the young people in Asia!

When one teaches, one also learns. I’m heartened to see the enthusiasm in the young of today. When I observe my own kids, I treasure the sight of innocence and optimism. My hope for the youths is that they will give back what they have received. To Halogen, your events are always fun, energising and morally uplifting. Keep up the great work. In rock-speak - Rock on! Here’s to the next decade!

- Eddie Sung International Award-Winning Rock Photographer, Founding Member & Vice President of I Love Children, Singapore Speaker at NYLD, 2013



While sparking a change in others, Halogen’s volunteers experience the change themselves. Hear these stories from Halogen’s change-makers By Faith Jinghui Luo

Diana Jean Reyes has been most

active in Halogen’s training scene. She is now a facilitator and coach at Positive Keystone.

When I first heard Martin Tan close his talk at an international youth conference in 2007 with: “Someday someone in this planet will do something that will change the world. Why not you?” I was hooked! Seeing the spark of inspiration in the eyes of all those young people that day which seemed to shout in silence: “Yes, I am a leader and I can make a difference!” equally inspired me. Throughout the years, that same spark in students’ eyes made working late into the night preparing for events and classes, and then waking up bright and early the following morning to work and teach, all worthwhile. Now as a career coach and corporate facilitator, I continue to find joy in helping others see the leader in themselves, leaders who can make a difference in their families, their teams, their companies and their communities in their own way.

Caleb Wong comes from a family of teachers; that could be why his friends at Halogen half-jokingly say that “teaching is in his blood”. But really, he truly is an impactful trainer. I used to believe it was idealistic to think that every single youth has the potential to make a significant difference in life. Each time I volunteered as a trainer, I felt that a particular training was a success if I left the classroom with at least one youth impacted and wanting to change. I had low expectations: one youth was enough. One day during a debrief session, a staff shared that every youth can learn something from every session in their own special way, and we should strive to impact every student when we enter the classroom. That experience left a deep impression on me, radically changing my paradigm; Halogen taught me to believe in every youth.



that Burn Bright

Nancy Ng is one enthusiastic volunteer. Many of our volunteers start volunteering in polytechnic or university when their schedules are more flexible, but Nancy could not wait! As a Secondary 5 student, she travels all the way from JB, Malaysia to come help run events and pack issues of Halogen360.

My dream was to impact youths to become leaders. I never thought that I could actually do that at the age of 18 but this dream was realised when I started volunteering for Halogen more than a year ago. It was really great working with other volunteers who have the common goal of developing young leaders to the fullest. I was given much opportunity to reach out to the youths and impact them directly and indirectly. Having a little bit of interaction with the speakers from the various National Young Leaders’ Days also enriched my volunteer experience, giving me the chance to be a better leader.

Aisha Osman, whom we affectionately know as Aishyza, has been volunteering since 2008 in various roles from Academy trainer to live social media reporter at Halogen events. Who would have thought I’d still be with Halogen today! My 5 years as a volunteer not only made my life more fulfilling, but also made me grow as a leader. Driven by the goal of inspiring others, I honed my skills in public speaking, facilitation, and mentoring through the Halogen academic trainings. The values cultivated from my experience with Halogen played a huge part in paving the way for my career path today in the entrepreneurship scene. Starting off as a ‘Startup Scout’ in NUS Enterprise grooming young startups, I aim to build my own successful startup in 5 years, and further down the horizon, give back as an angel investor in 12 years. So Halogen, KEEP ROCKIN’! XOXO

Faith Jinghui Luo is a former staff of Halogen involved in communications and volunteer engagement. She now resides in the four-seasons-a-day land of Melbourne where her “itchy fingers” can often be found holding a drawing pen or music instrument.


Staff at Work Bu Career decisions are one of the bigger decisions we make in life. Hear from those who decided to take the plunge to make building young leaders a part of their career By Faith Jinghui Luo

Janice Tan was with Halogen from when it first became “official”. She was Halogen’s first staff, involved in many aspects from the first National Young Leaders’ Day to the first Academy trainings.

Vanessa Yap went from Halogentrained youth, to intern, to Halogen staff as an Academy executive.

Having been on the Halogen staff team for 6 years, my best memories revolve around my interactions with youths and volunteers. I see the potential they have as leaders and am honoured to be able to play a part in their developmental journey. The volunteers’ passion and willingness to contribute to this cause has inspired and kept me on this path. The spirit of excellence that Halogen undertakes has impacted my work ethic deeply too.

When I was trained by Halogen in 2006, I thought it was interesting for people to believe in youths especially in those whom others don’t see a need to. In 2007, I decided to intern with Halogen. That sparked off a journey of a pursuit of my passion – the whole idea of being able to impact so many youths and to bring education and action together was perfect.

The whole experience has greatly reinforced my belief that there is an important need to develop young lives holistically. This has motivated me to pursue a career with the Ministry of Education as a secondary school teacher.

Halogen was the springboard for the things that I choose to concentrate and work on, including my education of Applied Drama and Psychology. This major has allowed me to have a clearer understanding about individuals and their behaviour. Applied drama creates a space for a creative approach, which I hope to bring to Halogen!


k, uilding Lives Shraddha Iyer, an intern all the way from India, embarked on a three-month internship to gain insights to make her dream come true.

The highlight of my experience with Halogen during my internship was to see youth being challenged, inspired and encouraged everyday to discover the leader in themselves. While constantly mentoring and guiding, Halogen gives you the space and the opportunity to explore and learn during the process. From planning and understanding the importance of small details and working as a team, to seeing an event through successfully, I took back a lot of knowledge and new skills at the end of my internship. They also supported me by being the first step in my journey towards starting my own youth leadership organisation in India.

Xuehu Lin got to know Halogen through his brother who volunteered with us. His Halogen experience challenged his assumptions of leadership, and he is now an active volunteer with the non-profit sector.

It’s hard to fully understand a young person’s potential when you’re raised in a world that measures a person’s worth based on his academic and career achievements. It was hard for me to imagine how a Normal Technical student could rise to a position of power in society. After interning with Halogen in 2011, I believe that more than anything, Halogen teaches all of us to break our lazy assumptions about the underdogs. Youth leadership in Halogen isn’t just about positions of power; it’s about taking ownership and responsibility of your environment. And that’s a life skill that you don’t necessarily get with a university education; a skill that will make the difference between a generation of passive complainers and a generation of hands-on gogetters.

Pearl Pang is Halogen’s Chief-of-Staff, or as she would say, Chief-of-Stuff. She is spunky, and seniority in position does not stop her from putting her hands to the plough to get things done at Halogen.

Halogen is a special place! It’s a gathering place of young people – including those young at heart – who believe in a cause. Whether we are running an event, shooting a video, training a class, designing the latest catalogue, or preparing a cheque for the caterer, each of us is building young leaders and changing the world in our own way. It’s really cool to be part of this mission-driven community! Martin’s cry strikes a chord in my heart – “Don’t settle!”. He continually challenges us to give our best and think beyond what is possible, and not to limit ourselves just because we are a charity. As a small and lean organisation, we have punched above our weight to achieve outstanding results.



come from a heritage of educators –

I communicated that the boys’ crude

Beyond the youths, to truly create a

my grandmother, parents, elder sister,

behavior was far from impressive to the

sustained impact in developing young

uncles and aunties are all educators. I

girls. They could be so much more than

leaders, Halogen recognises that educators

grew up familiar with the joys and chal-

the low expectations people have of them

are key stakeholders in the ecosystem. We

lenges of teaching. Seeing the impact, It

and the girls did not have to put up with

can inspire and equip young leaders, but

was a natural choice for me to join the

low standards of the boys around them. In

eventually the follow-up and long-term de-

education sector.

living up to higher standards, they will in-

velopment rests on educators. Therefore,

In my past five years of being involved in

spire and influence others to do the same. If

we want to intentionally partner with and

youth development training, I have spoken

enough of them work at keeping these high

equip educators to engage this generation

to nearly 40,000 students and 500 educa-

standards, there will eventually be a critical

of youth with new resources, tools and skills.

tors across multiple topics and platforms.

mass to start a positive culture of respect.

Zooming out of the education world

One question that drives me to find an an-

As the camp progressed, there was

into the wider society, we have also ob-

swer is: What happens to a young person af-

marked improvement in the behaviour as

served that good businesses have the

ter he finishes his years of formal education?

they began to realise the power of their in-

power to change communities and societ-

If education is meant to prepare a young

fluence not just over one another, but also

ies for the better. Therefore, this October

over the overall dynamics.

2013, we have inked a partnership with the

person for the rest of his life, then the measure of our success as educators lies not in

In the feedback form, one boy wrote

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to

how well they fare in tests and exams, but

“Thank you for treating me like one of them


how well they fare in life. That is why I

(referring to those from branded schools)”,

track next year. In the long run, we want to

strongly believe in youth leadership devel-

and one girl mentioned “Thank you for

build an ecosystem of local entrepreneurs


teaching us how to deal with unacceptable

who conduct ethical businesses that help make communities and society better.




Taking over the reins of Halogen from

behaviour. You inspire us to live by higher

Martin, I want to continue his legacy of

standards and uphold them”. Through

As Halogen takes a leap into the future,

building a generation of young leaders who

this experience, it further reinforced in my

we will evolve to meet the changing needs

lead themselves and others well. I want

heart that leadership is influence.

and address pressing issues with vision,

to continue to champion them to practi-

This is the core of our message each

understanding, clarity and ability. We will

cally change our world through issues they

time we engage with youths, educators

remain committed to our mission of devel-

believe in. To us, we want to continue to

and parents, be it through our events, our

oping competent young leaders of good

broaden the definition of leadership – one

academy workshops, our action projects,

character, who will contribute generously

that is not limited to positions of power but

or our media channels. It is a message that

to communities. We want to share with

positions of influence.

we wish to spread with great intensity and

young people that with great power does

“virality”, and more so in an increasingly

come great responsibility, but this power is

digitised, volatile, uncertain, complex, am-

not restricted to the realm of super heroes.

We see leadership as influence. And influence is powerful. Young people need to know that. Uncle

biguous (VUCA) world.

Ben said to Peter Parker (Spiderman) be-

As I lead the charge into #WHATSNEXT,

fore his death: “With great power comes

Halogen aims to increase our engagement

great responsibility”. This is a message that

with youths through online media. With

our young people need to hear today. If we

Singapore youths spending an average of

help young people realise how much pow-

5.5* hours a day on their mobile devices,

er they can yield just through their influ-

the physical touch points of spreading this

ence, we can help them grow in taking re-

message that leadership is influence, is no

sponsibility over how they use their influence.

longer sufficient. We need to be where the

In a leadership camp I conducted for a

I invite you to join my team and me in building young leaders. * Figures from a survey conducted by Singapore Polytechnic Diploma in Media and Communication students in January 2013

youths are.

motley group of students, there was a group of boys who were constantly making crude jokes and using foul language, thinking it was cool. As one of the chief trainers, I had the option to let that pass, making an excuse for their behaviour because “boys will be boys”. Instead, I chose to publicly admonish the boys who were crude and the girls who acquiesced their irreverent mannerisms.

We see leadership as influence. And influence is powerful.


The incoming CEO of Halogen Foundation Singapore, Sean Kong, shares his heartbeat, dreams and plans for what lies ahead By Sean Kong

Photo courtesy of Marvin Lowe

Halogen would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed generously to our cause, in particular: Platinum SPONSORS



Dr Ann Tan Sian Ann Mr Eddie Tan Cheng Soo Cisco Systems Singapore Dimension Data Asia Pacific Pte Ltd EMC International SARL (Singapore Branch) Neo Garden Catering TAK Products & Services Pte Ltd

Wiley Pontiac Land Private Limited



Mr Joseph Lee Boon Leng Mrs Joni Ong Activa Media Pte Ltd Asia PR Werkz Pte Ltd Aviation & Electronics Support Pte Ltd Bengawan Solo Pte Ltd Charles & Keith (Singapore) Pte Ltd NTUC FairPrice Foundation RiverLife Church SIM University TP Dental

Mr Aaron Maniam Mr Alfred Wong Siu Hong Mr Benedict Chang Yew Teck Mr Leong Cheng Chit Ms Pixie Lee Mr Shekaran Krishnan AMSCO Healthcare Marketing Pte Ltd Community Foundation of Singapore Firstsolutions Pte Ltd Memory World (Singapore) Pte Ltd Nero & Lim Business Consultants Sam Mui Kuang Pottery Techventis Pte Ltd






We also wish to thank all those who have contributed to our cause beyond the timeline of the printing of this magazine.

Halogen360 Issue 10 - Oct to Dec 2013  

Read about Halogen Foundation Singapore's 10 years of building young leaders with our 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. Find out more...

Halogen360 Issue 10 - Oct to Dec 2013  

Read about Halogen Foundation Singapore's 10 years of building young leaders with our 10th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. Find out more...